What the Senate’s Wall Street Reform Bill Means

Key Provisions Go a Long Way Preventing Another Financial Crisis

Washington, DCThe historic Wall Street reform legislation passed by the Senate on May 20 will have an impact on Main Street as well as Wall Street. The big banks will make every effort to dilute the bill in the House-Senate conference. Congress must assure that nothing is done to weaken the legislation, that the strongest provisions of each bill make it into the final version and that potential loopholes are closed. Here are the key provisions that will provide all Americans with economic stability.

  • Real consumer protection: independent from the biggest banks that have put their profits ahead of us. Now credit cards and mortgages will offer terms in language we can all understand.  It will also offer help for those abused by predatory lenders.
  • Mortgage reforms: For the first time lenders are prohibited from making loans that borrowers cannot repay, and bans kickbacks for steering people into high rate loans when they qualify for lower rates.
  • Ending the casino economy and bringing sunlight to shadowy derivatives market: The $600 trillion derivatives market will now have the light of day shining on the market (with exchange trading) and be held accountable with capital requirements (with clearing).
  • Putting the brakes on risky speculation to prevent future crises and tax payer bailouts: Unregulated shadow banks like AIG will face strict oversight for the first time and our biggest, riskiest banks will have tougher leverage and capital requirements. When a financial firm does run into trouble, it will face a new liquidation regime so that we don’t need to bail it out or prop it up—it will be put out of business.
  • Strong investor protections: Enhanced shareholder rights will allow for a say on pay of executives and give long-term shareholders a meaningful voice in holding corporate directors accountable. Additionally credit ratings agencies will not be just the handmaidens of the biggest financial institutions. Better controls at rating agencies hold them accountable for the reliability of their reporting.